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Don’t let the ghost of a nasty zit haunt you. Here are 6 dermatologist-recommended methods to banish acne scars and keep them from showing up in the first place.
1. Topical Retinoids
“Retinoids” might sound like a heavy-duty drugs, but they’re actually derivatives of vitamin A that’ll help improve the appearance of acne scars, says Bethanee Schlosser, M.D., dermatologist and director of the Women’s Skin Health Program for Northwestern Medicine.
Similar to anti-aging products, topical retinoids will stimulate the production of collagen—the “glue” that holds your skin together—and gradually smooth out scars. For an over the counter solution, try Olay Regenerist Intensive Repair Treatment. For something stronger, ask your dermatologist for a prescription retinoid.
2. Kojic Acid
Derived from the extract of mushrooms, kojic acid can help banish dark spots left behind by serious acne.
It might seem counter-intuitive to put a fungus on your face, but its lightening properties will help to even out your skin coloring, says Dr. Schlosser.
3. Fractional Laser Treatments
Fractional Laser procedures are quick, effective ways to dramatically improve the appearance of acne scars, says Murad Alam, M.D., dermatologist and Chief of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery for Northwestern Medicine.
The laser energy penetrates your skin and gently smooths down the scars. “The good news is that it’s a safe, minimally invasive in-office procedure,” says Alam. You can get it done at your dermatologist’s office in about 20 minutes.
4. Injectable Fillers
To get rid of smaller spots, injectable fillers can lift up any “dented” areas caused by acne scarring, says Matthew Avram, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center.
The fillers are made from hyaluronic acid, which treats wrinkles, too. Ask your doc about Juvederm or Belotero, but beware that these treatments can get pricey.
5. Tinted Primer
Using a tinted primer with sun protection can help fill in scars and make them less noticeable, says Heidi A. Waldorf, M.D., Director of Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
The primer fills in your scars while the tint helps make them less noticeable. You can find it through many physicians and spas.
6. Keep New Scars from Cropping Up
Scars are much easier to prevent than they are to get rid of, says Dr. Avram. When a fresh pimple pops up, avoid scratching or picking at it. Otherwise, you could produce more severe scarring in the area.
An anti-inflammatory diet can also help get rid of new acne before it scars, says Dr. Waldorf.